I want to say up front that this post is not intended to say anything negative about schools or teachers. I think there are a lot of awesome teachers out there who are really making a huge difference in the lives of so many kids. Rather, I am writing this post because I wanted to get at an attitude that I see around me in society.
And that is that school = education, end of story. That the only place and way you can get an education is in a classroom, with a teacher, and that’s education.
But this idea is nothing but limiting. Don’t get me wrong, you can get a wonderful education in school. But it’s not the only place you can get an education. You can be homeschooled. You can be a self-taught learner. You can be a life long learner as an adult. You can be an unschooler. You can read. You can talk to people. You can observe. You can conduct experiments. You can ask questions. You can keep growing and enriching your mind – to infinity! Education doesn’t mean just facts, in my book, it’s also about learning about other people and yourself.
I believe strongly that everyone should be educated. That we should know how to think, read, write, do math, and how to find out the answers to our questions. I believe strongly that everyone should keep growing in our knowledge – that we should be striving to know and learn more, because that’s one of the ways we grow as people. But I no longer think that this has to happen in a school building. Look around you – there are opportunities to learn everywhere around you if you just open your eyes. School can be a part of that, but we don’t have to limit ourselves to just the school building.
Talking about adults for a second, in 2014, 23% of adults hadn’t read a single book in the last year. Not one. That’s almost a quarter of the population. Books are not the only way to learn, but you’re missing out on so much knowledge and beauty when you fail to read.
I look around and I see so many ways that we could be a better society with education. I think the problem happens when we lose our love of learning and when we think education only happens in a school building. I hope that we can find a way to love learning again and that we can embrace a model of whole-life learning not just school-life learning.
Embrace the new. Read that article or book, talk to that person, try that new experience. It’s how we grow, it’s how we learn, and it’s how we keep moving forward.
This attitude and philosophy of mine does play a role in why we are homeschooling the kids. We like the ability we will have to individualize their education, to allow them to work at their own pace, and to allow them to learn from many sources, people, and places. While we are not unschoolers (we do use curriculum), I do believe that we can benefit from having our eyes open to the many ways around us that we can learn. I want my children to grow up and love learning and to realize that learning is all around them.
You, as an adult, modeling lifelong learning will help encourage your kids to become lifelong learners as well. Teach them discernment in how to pick quality sources (this matters a lot!) because in a digital age, they will grow up with a lot of information around them, but also a lot of misinformation around them. As your parent, remember that you can tell them all you want that education is important, but when you model it, that will have the biggest effect. If you want your kids to be lifelong learners with good discernment, you yourself should model that. Really show them that education is so much more than school.